As January comes to a close, a fundraiser started to support an 11-year-old Georgia boy mauled by three pit bulls earlier this month has garnered hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.
On January 6, 11-year-old Justin Gilstrap was riding his bicycle home after playing at a friend’s house when three pit bulls dragged him into a ditch, biting off one of his ears and 70 percent of his scalp.
The fundraiser was launched on GoFundMe in the days following the attack for Gilstrap’s medical bills and expenses. As of January 30, the fundraiser has received $260,445 in donations.
Ericka Gilstrap, the mother of Justin and organizer of the fundraiser, wrote at the time, "I am asking everyone to please pray for Justin. He was attacked by 3 pit bulls tonight. He was rushed in for emergency surgery. He is currently intubated and sedated at CHOG in PICU. He is missing 70% of his scalp, has several lacerations and staples, they couldn’t close the wound on his leg, and now he’s running a fever."
"The sad thing is we have reported these dogs several times before! Columbia County did nothing! It’s sad it took this for them to finally do something. I am a single mom of 4 so I am sure I will have to be out of work for a little bit plus all of Justin’s medical bills being he is going to have to have a few more surgeries. I hate asking for anything but right now I am worried about everything. Any help is appreciated."
Justin has gone through at least eight surgeries since the attack, with his mother writing on January 12, "I am also upset that they give this baby, who doesn’t even know if he’s coming or going at this point, a morphine drip with a button to hit when he’s in pain. He is not in the state to understand that. He will start crying his head hurts and they “remind” him to hit his button. That’s not his responsibility at this point."
In a January 13 piece by the Augusta Chronicle, Ericka Gilstrap said that the donations are "a weight off our shoulders."
"The outpouring of donations, cards and prayers blows my mind. You don't feel alone. You feel like you've got an army behind you. It's just been overwhelming and I'll never be able to repay all these people back, but I know that's going be the silver lining behind this – to be able to show Justin that not everybody's bad."
Shortly after the incident, the 26-year-old owner of the dogs was arrested and charged with reckless conduct. He has been released on bond.
The owner turned over seven dogs to the county, with Animal Services stating that they only have vaccination records for two of the dogs. Ericka Gilstrap said that her son is being treated at the hospital as if all three dogs who attacked him had rabies.
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